Client: FLAG (Fibreoptic link around the globe) Limited
PR Team: EMC Euro PR & Marketing Consultants
Campaign: Publicising the first section of FLAG laid in the
Timescale: Jan 1996
Budget: pounds 20,000
FLAG is a 17,000 mile, undersea, high-capacity fibreoptic cable that
will stretch from Cornwall to Japan. Due for completion in September
1997, it will provide telecommunications links between three continents
and 12 countries at a cost of pounds 750,000. On 5 January 1996, Cable &
Wireless (Marine) began laying the European section of the cable on
behalf of FLAG, off the coast of Italy.
The project had already spent two years in the planning stage and was
privately financed. FLAG therefore, wished to present itself as
credible, cost-effective and technologically advanced to both end users
and carriers buying capacity across Europe and the Middle East.
A rival joint project between France Telecom and Sing-apore Telecom was
holding a high-profile conference at the end of January, so EMC, FLAG’s
retained agency since 1992, and its EuroPR partners found themselves
with only a month to reach their objectives.
EMC, as managing agency, proposed a media relations campaign covering
broadsheets and the communications trade press across Europe. The aim
was to reach FLAG’s target audience of senior telecoms managers.
Difficulties in launching this pan-European campaign stemmed from
national differences. While the Spanish and Italians were interested in
a project happening on their doorstep, in the UK, the cable was not due
to be brought ashore until May, so commercial aspects of the project
were highlighted. Moreover, in view of France Telecom’s rival scheme, it
was important for FLAG’s message in France to heavily target end users.
Therefore, in each country the media was handled by individual EuroPR
members. However, in the week following the laying of the cable, EuroPR
coordinated a series of one-to-one media interviews with John
Mercogliano, FLAG’s European Vice President, in London, Paris, Milan and
Madrid. In addition, EuroPR distributed a VNR of the laying of the cable
to European news channels.
Broadsheet coverage ranged from the Financial Times and the Independent
in the UK to Il Sole 24 Ore and Mondo Economico in Italy. The trade
titles Communication International and Communicate carried face-to-face
interviews with John Mercogliano. The VNR proved especially popular with
the prolific local cable stations and satellite news channels in Spain
Within the limits of the budget, and as a one-off communications
opportunity, this campaign gained some impressive coverage in a short
time across the broadsheets and the trade press. With a rival breathing
down their necks, time was of the essence. ‘It was very critical for us
to get in front of the press,’ says Mercogliano.
Latest figures from FLAG puts 50 carriers from 45 countries taking
capacity with the company with sales of over pounds 250 million.
However, Mercogliano is the first to point out the difficulty in
evaluating exactly what factors influenced these purchasing decisions.